The G.O.A.T. vs. the Kid
by Dale Reeves
Last Sunday afternoon as soon as we knew who would be facing off in Super Bowl LV, several announcers and sportswriters commented, “It will be the G.O.A.T. vs. the Kid.” On Sunday, February 7, the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be pitted against the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. The G.O.A.T. (“Greatest of All Time”) is a moniker that has been attributed to arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Tom Brady. By leaving New England and joining coach Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay, Brady was able to get the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl in eighteen years. This will be Brady’s tenth Super Bowl appearance, and fourth in five years, and his six titles are more than any other quarterback. He’ll also be the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to compete for the Lombardi Trophy in his home stadium. He is 43 years old.
“The Kid” is the Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, who is just a baby at the age of 25. Mahomes has established himself as the face of the NFL for this next decade. He won NFL MVP honors in 2018, his first season as a starter, and will be the first quarterback 25 years or younger to start in two Super Bowls. He and the Chiefs are trying to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in back-to-back years since the 2004 season when—guess who!—Brady and the New England Patriots did it. Chiefs’ coach, Andy Reid, has said about Mahomes, “You are seeing him grow right in front of you.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, you have to be a kid before you can become a goat.
Earlier this season in week 12, Mahomes and the Chiefs beat Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay 27-24. After last Sunday’s respective wins for both teams, Coach Reid commented, “Those two have a lot of respect for each other.” In case you weren’t interested in watching the Super Bowl this year, these subplots should be enough to arouse your interest in the big game.
The Greatest G.O.A.T. of All
You don’t have to have a G.O.A.T. to get to the Super Bowl, but it sure helps. Just ask the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans, the four NFL teams who have never played in a Super Bowl. Our Bengals have gotten there twice, but thanks to another great quarterback, Joe Montana, they lost to the San Francisco 49ers both times.
Fortunately, for anyone who is a follower of Jesus, we do have a G.O.A.T. even greater than Tom Brady. Our GOAT has never thrown an interception, or fumbled the ball. Brady is as close to being a perfect quarterback as is possible, but he’s still an imperfect human being, complete with character flaws, bad decisions, and victories and awards that, though impressive, are temporary in light of eternity. Jesus Christ is the perfect Messiah, the GOAT above all. A few years ago, we taught through a sermon series at Christ’s Church entitled, “G.O.A.T.” You can check out the teaching HERE.
In the Old Testament, as recorded in the book of Leviticus, on the day of atonement every year the high priest would draw lots to see which goat would be sacrificed to God as a sin offering, and which goat would be the scapegoat that would be sent away to the wilderness. This random selection ensured that the high priest would not be able to sway the decision; God himself would choose. The first goat was slaughtered and its blood used to cleanse the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting, and the altar.
The live goat was then brought to the high priest, and he laid his hands on the goat’s head and confessed over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites. Symbolically, the scapegoat took on the sins of the people and removed them. It was considered unclean and this is why it had to be taken to a remote place. Ancient Jewish tradition records that the goat would be led to a rocky place, or a place of jagged rocks to ensure the death of the goat in the wilderness.
This was a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do for them—and for us—on the cross someday as he was crucified on our behalf. Jesus took upon himself all our sins, as he was hung on the cross outside of the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (NIV).
Exchanging Trophies for a Crown
The Bible says that all of us have gone astray like sheep (and goats as well!). We have all tried to make it on our own. We have all fallen short of God’s desire for the way we should live our lives. We have dropped the ball, we have allowed our enemy Satan to infiltrate our ranks and cause us to lose yardage, we have stepped out of bounds. But, the Lord has laid on Jesus, our scapegoat, all our sins! What makes Jesus the GOAT is that he’s done all the work for us. He simply asks us to take the directions he provides for us in the huddle, as he calls out the plays he desires for us to run.
The author of Hebrews says it in these words: “Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God” (Hebrews 9:14, MSG).
Without Jesus in our lives, we may think we are pretty talented, or smart, or athletic, or beautiful, or whatever you put your hope in. But all our trophies, accolades, promotions, and achievements will mean absolutely nothing in eternity. That’s why we must cling to the cross of Jesus.
I grew up singing this song in church, and I still believe it to be true:
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame,
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down.
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown.”